Monday, August 31, 2015

Fear of Man

Hey folks!

Had a great week this week. I feel like I'm starting to adjust well to being with Elder Livingston. He's a good missionary and fun to serve with. :)

So I'm trying to start writing shorter emails, because super long emails are fun for nobody. So if this email ends up being way shorter than the other ones usually are (hopefully it does), don't worry, it's on purpose :)

Major events this week:

We had a combined zone training with the Chattanooga zone in Athens on Thursday! It was really cool. I got to see Elders Merrill, Nelson, and Galaviz again! Merrill and Galaviz are both in Chat zone, and Nelson's area is closer to Athens than to Asheville (where his zone conference was), so they were all there. That was sweet. At the conference we got the Area Book Planner app, and we've started using it since then. Right now we're putting all of our paper records from our area book into the app, which is a pain, but it's going to be a huge help. Paper area books are a pain in the butt, they're always a mess, and if missionaries even keep it up to date, a lot of the time the handwriting is super hard to read anyway. So I'm loving that. The planner part of it though is kind of a pain, it takes a whole lot longer to pull out my iPad and make an appointment than it does to just whip out the paper planner and write it down. I wish we could keep using the paper planners and just transfer the stuff to the iPads, but they won't give us more paper ones :( So I guess I'll have to just adjust. Haha

We also got these black boxes in our cars called "Tiwi" boxes ("Teenage I-Witness"). They track our driving and keep us from speeding or driving aggressively. (Siiiigh...) I was thinking that President Griffin would start getting inundated with emails like "Elder So-and-so was going 51 in a 50" as soon as they put them in, but they're actually pretty forgiving. You can go like 5 over before it does anything, and then it just warns you to "watch your speed" (using Hal 9000's voice, btw) and if you slow down, it doesn't penalize you. So that's nice. But it's still obnoxious. :P

President Griffin gave an awesome training on the Sacrament. That's something that's being talked about a lot lately, at least around here. The Sacrament, Sacrament meeting, keeping the Sabbath Day holy... I think the first presidency is trying to change the culture of the Church, and the attitude towards Sunday, church, and especially sacrament meeting and the sacrament. The sacrament is incredibly sacred, and we need to keep it that way. It is the only ordinance we do for ourselves more than once. And I've heard it said that sacrament meeting is the most sacred and important meeting in the Church.

This week we also got a new ward mission leader! I don't remember if I mentioned it last week, because I'm not sure if it was this Sun or last Sun that he was called, but we definitely started meeting with him this week. His name is Bro Mioduski (pronounced mih-DO-ski), and so far he seems really eager to get involved. Which is awesome. As much as I love our last ward mission leader, he didn't really do anything. :P

Aaah! It's getting long already! I'll hurry and finish!

We got haircuts from Sis Woods. Elder Livingston told her she could go a little shorter on the top, and then he heard "NEEEAAARRRRRWWW" and saw a ton of hair falling... It's like, military short now :) He wasn't too happy about it at first (he was nice to her anyway though) but honestly it looks good, and I think it's starting to grow on him (pun totally intended).

Oh, also. So there's this girl in the ward named Shasta. Both of us thought she was a member, but I guess she's not. She's a youth, and her family came back out of inactivity around the same time I got here, and they've all been coming regularly ever since, and she's been making friends with the other youth, and even coming to early morning seminary. She was just never baptized. On Sunday Bro Mioduski came up to us and told us, "Hey, so, Shasta wants to get baptized, and she lives in Rockwood, so you guys will be the ones teaching her. So let's get that set up." And we were both like WHAT??? That seriously does not happen. People never just come up to us completely ready to be baptized. It's pretty amazing. We told her there are 5 lessons, and she came back to us an hour later with a piece of paper with 5 dates and times listed and at the bottom "Baptism - Sep. 12." It's crazy! 

Phil and Marylou are getting married next week. And Wanda is progressing really well! We had a great lesson with her this week, answered a lot of her questions. :) She has Word of Wisdom struggles though, and I don't know if she's quite ready to change yet, but she is so ready. She loves everything we've taught so far (Plan of Salvation and Restoration), especially eternal families. So that's cool.

Also we went to early morning seminary this morning. :) That was really fun.

I'll share a quick thought from my week.

Lately I've been working on conquering my fear of man. For a lot of my life I have kind of gone with the flow. I've grown up around friends with high moral standards, and whenever a situation started to get sketchy, or we weren't really doing the right things, or whatever, I could almost always count on someone else to stand up and say something.

Heber C. Kimball said the following:

“… To meet the difficulties that are coming, it will be necessary for you to have knowledge of the truth of this work for yourself. The difficulties will be of such character that the man or woman who does not possess his personal knowledge or witness will fall. … The time will come when no man or woman will be able to stand on borrowed light. Each of yowill have to be guided by thlight within himself [or herself]."

I think the principle taught here applies not only to gaining a testimony of the truthfulness of the gospel, but of being true to that testimony. I also believe that time is now. None of us can expect to make it on borrowed light. We cannot rely wholly on borrowed light and expect to be safe. We must have our own light, and act on it. We must not only believe, and pray, and study, we must stand up and act, like Captain Moroni in the Book of Mormon.

In Doctrine and Covenants 3:7-8, the Lord gives the following counsel:

"For, behold, you should not have feared man more than God. Although men set at naught the counsels of God, and despise his words--

"Yet you should have been faithful; and he would have extended his arm and supported you against all the fiery darts of the adversary; and he would have been with you in every time of trouble."

The Lord's chastisement in these verses has lately started to sting me. I felt guilty because I am afraid of what other people will think of me, and that sometimes keeps me from standing up for righteousness, honesty, obedience, and truth. I felt discouraged. But today, when I was reading it again, I realized for the first time that this chastisement was directed at Joseph Smith. The very prophet of the Restoration struggled with the same thing! That gave me hope that I can change. And then I saw verse 10:

"But remember, God is merciful; therefore, repent of that which thou hast done which is contrary to the commandment which I gave you, and thou art still chosen, and art again called to the work"

God truly is merciful. If I will repent, and do my best to stand up and be faithful, He will "extend His arm and support me."

And He will do the same for you!

If you, like me, want to do the right thing but are at times held back by a fear of man, a fear of standing up and taking action, there is hope for you! You are in good company. Even Joseph Smith struggled with fearing man.

I promise you that as you follow the counsel of the Lord to repent, seek His forgiveness, and begin to do your best to be faithful, you will discover for yourself the reality of the power of Christ's Atonement. He can not only take away your sins and failures and shortcomings, but His grace can enable you to overcome your weaknesses and become strong. He can lift you up, sustain you, protect you, strengthen you, comfort you, do anything you need. All He asks is that you try, and have faith in Him.

That's my challenge to you. :) In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen!

(Dangit, this turned out super long again... Sorry everybody!)


Elder Swindler
1)  I caught a rooster!!

2) Rockwood Reunion :)

3) Missionary action shot (after the zone conference we went to a member's house in Athens with a bunch of other missionaries)

4)  2) Just a regular day in Rockwood :) (This is like the third or fourth time I've seen the cops come to our neighbors' house since I've been here haha) 

5) The Ball family (members here) has birds. Lots of them. This one was gorgeous though, and super friendly. :)
They also have like 9000 dogs. When they opened the door for us to come in it was like opening floodgates to a river of dogs...

6) We found an old abandoned firetruck! I thought it was so cool!

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